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The Parliament Act - How it works

The Parliament Act was first passed in 1911 to ensure governments could set a budget, after peers rejected the 1909 Finance Bill, Chancellor David Lloyd George's so-called ‘ People's Budget’, which provided pensions and health insurance for the poor.

Peers threatened to reject the Parliament Act when it was introduced, but backed down when the Government threatened to create several hundred extra Liberal peers who would vote the Bill on and destroy the natural Tory majority in the Lords.

The 1911 Act was used just three times, twice over the Government of Ireland Act, then for the Welsh Church Act of 1914. It was used once more in 1949 to bring in the current Parliament Act after the Lords rejected plans to nationalise the steel industry.

Since then, it has only been used three times: for the War Crimes Act 1991 allowing Nazis accused of murder to be prosecuted; the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, bringing in a list system for candidates; and the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 which set the age of consent for homosexual acts at 16.

The Act states that a Bill thrown out by peers can be forced through a year and a day after being re-introduced into the Commons. The process which led to the passage of the Hunting Bill started a year ago.